Newly certified skippers ready to take the helm for Raglan Volunteer Coastguard

Newly certified skippers Brent Christophers, James Hawken and Lee Poolton are ready to take the helm for Coastguard Raglan’s search and rescue, and breakdown assistance.

The three have nearly 30 years combined coastguard service and have put in thousands of sea hours and added to this is the Wednesday night trainings they do every week to get to this point.

Adding three more certified skippers to Coastguard Raglan strengthens the already capable, talented and dedicated crew of local volunteers.

The certification is for the Gallagher Rescue vessel only and allows them to operate within 12-nautical miles from Tirua Point in the south and to Port Waikato in the north. And, James points out, they can go outside this zone in extreme emergency situations if the need dictates.

With skippers Gordon Jowsey retiring two-years ago and Viv Regnier taking leave, the three new skippers will provide additional support for long-time skipper Kevin Dreaver.

Although retired, Gordon has been available to provide cover for Kevin and Viv has also been on back-up, but having Brent, James and Lee fully certified reinforces their capabilities in the Gallagher vessel on the water.

“It’s a lot for Kevin to be ‘Johnny on the spot’ all the time. It’s good to take some of the load off Kevin’s shoulders, not only for him but for his family,” Lee says.

It’s been a big commitment for the three who work fulltime; Lee and Brent work in Raglan and James in Hamilton.

“We’re all here for the same reason to make sure the unit operates to its full potential,” James says.

The three are all keen fishos, surfers and boatmen, and they say belonging to  coastguard means close bonds are formed with the people they head out to sea with, in often inclement weather and in extreme circumstances.

“We live on a really dangerous coast and none of us want to see anyone perish out there,” James says.

The Raglan Coastguard is in the process of installing a floating dry dock boat lift in conjunction with business partner Marinescapes which will improve their response time and expense, as well as decreasing time spent on maintenance and cleaning.

Coastguard Raglan grew out of Raglan Sea Rescue, which was a community rescue service formed by local fisherman, police and other committed locals.

The Raglan unit is indebted to sponsors Gallagher Group. Raglan Volunteer Coastguard would not be able to perform as a highly-affective search and rescue unit without the Gallagher Group support.

The wet crew undertake rigorous physical training to qualify to be operational culminating in an annual in-water survivability swim to shore after being dropped from Gallagher Rescue outside Raglan Bar.

Twice a year Coastguard Raglan hold a public education Bar Safety Day in conjunction with Waikato Regional Council to educate mariners in the art of crossing bars. There are two Bar Safety Days coming up in October and November, one in Raglan and one in Kawhia. For more information contact raglancoastguard@gmail.com or phone secretary Brigid Green 07 825 8089.                      

Janine Jackson